Most of the time I talk about the damage stress and anxiety does to us. However, let’s stop and consider what carrying around anxiety does to those around us, from our loved ones to complete strangers.
We know stress is toxic when we can’t redirect it positively. We know worry will cause us any number of physical complaints, and the combination of the two can lead to psychological disorders.
Our stress and anxiety can also make life unpleasant for those around us. Stress consumes our energy, our motivation, and our empathy. When stress is busy draining us, we tend to listen far less effectively than when we’re not under pressure.
We simply don’t pay attention as well. This lack of attention can create friction all the way from a boss having to tell us twice to do something, to forgetting an important task for a loved one, to very simple but infuriating incidents, like losing your car keys.
Stress lends itself to irritability, and naturally we lend that irritability to those around us, who then return it back to us. It’s an unhappy circle of snapping and crankiness. One person’s high stress level can leach into a group and poison everyone else’s mood.
If you’re getting the idea I’m saying stress, worry and anxiety are toxic contaminants, you’re right.
Sure, some of us do put on a bright face and try to keep the anxiety inside; where it dissolves us, slowly, surely, and painfully. Overall, the best approach to stress isn’t to alienate your loved ones, neither is worrying an ulcer into your stomach any good. Remember, stress is psychological but it affects the body as well.
Stress is holistic in its poisonous nature. It damages the mind, body and spirit.
Face stress head on by digging down to the bottom of what’s getting to you. Is it something you can let go of? If you’re getting angry frantically digging for a favourite pen when you have bills to pay, perhaps you might consider using a different pen and looking for the #1 later.
So much of the time we become fixated on the exact idea of what we want, what we’re looking for—either figuratively or literally—and we don’t see something that works just as well, or better, right in front of us.
Stress dwells within us sometimes, but take those deep breaths, hold yourself in the now, and let the stress go. Not stressing over an issue can seem like surrendering control over it; it can feel like giving up.
For those issues where you can’t make any sort of difference, yes, you are surrendering your idea or desire to control the problem. If you can affect it by action, you don’t need to worry or fret, you don’t need to stress. You can make a plan, write it down, and when you start to stress, read your action plan.
Add only the things you can actually do. As you work your action plan, write down how well each step works and how the situation has changed. It’s another example of journaling for proactive change.
Having a “solutions” journal (don’t call it your “stress” journal—that alone conjures pain) is rewarding in many ways, not the least of which is a reminder of all the real, tangible actions you’ve taken to make your life a happier, stress free place!